Focus RS Drift Mode Created By Accident And We’re All Better For It
Glorious sideways action for the masses reveals dangerous double standardby Jonathan Lopez, on
Accidents aren’t always bad. In 1928, Alexander Fleming accidently discovered penicillin after a petri dish was left exposed near an open window. And while the new Ford Focus RS probably won’t be wiping out any deadly, civilization-threatening bacteria any time soon, it will be fun as hell to play around with, especially with the ass-out AWD antics of Drift Mode activated – a feature that was apparently just an accident.
In a recent report from Australian publication Motoring, Tyrone Johnson, vehicle and engineering manager at Ford Performance, revealed that the crossed-up handling setting was originally discovered during the development of the RS’ AWD system, and was not part of the hot hatch’s original design plan.
Johnson said that it all started with a test session conducted by two engineers, one behind the wheel, the other in the passenger seat tweaking the AWD with a laptop.
“And they are talking and he says ‘oh let me try this out’ and he tries it and he says ‘oh that’s cool can you give me more of that’ and he gives him more and he says ‘that’s really cool’ and then it starts working,” Johnson said. “I guess it’s just because we are a bunch of crazy guys. We just do things.”
After exhibiting the benefits of Drift Mode to global technical and development chief Raj Nair, the feature was officially slated for production.
Ford says Drift Mode is not for use on public roads, but that hasn’t stopped safety groups from voicing their outrage at its inclusion on the new Focus RS. Some have even demanded that it be outlawed.
Unsurprisingly, we here at TopSpeed think the controversy is simply ridiculous. What’s more, it reveals an equally absurd (and potentially dangerous) double standard.
Read on for our defense of Drift Mode.
Continue reading for our take on Drift Mode.
In Defense Of Drift Mode
First off, you gotta give it up to Ford for building exactly what every enthusiast on the planet dreams of. The new Focus RS is a rocket ship on wheels, and Drift Mode is the icing on the cake.
And when it comes to pissing people off, well, I’m all for that too.
Let me explain. The uproar over Drift Mode has revealed a crazy, potentially dangerous double standard that speaks to broader trends across the world.
It all starts with perception. Think about Drift Mode, and what do you see – responsible adults politely commuting to their 9 to 5 with Grandma in the passenger seat? No, of course not. You think about boy racers hooning it up and sliding around a shopping mall parking lot. Because the Focus RS is an affordable performance car, people naturally assume it’ll be abused on public roads.
Which it will. But that’s not the point.
The point is this: no one would think twice about Ferrari releasing its latest high-dollar super coupe with a “Grand Prix Qualifying Mode” that killed traction control and added an extra 500 horsepower. No one would voice their concern over a Lamborghini Corsa setting that could shatter windows with the exhaust note.
This double standard is the real danger. If you’re an individual of modest means and you have a performance car, you’re a menace. If you’re rich and you have a performance car, you’re just enjoying your success.
Is it fair? Of course not. There are plenty of examples of more “refined” (read: expensive) sports cars with high-performance drive modes wreaking havoc on public roads.
I’m not here to pick on rich folks. I just think this ridiculous double standard needs to be identified for what it is.
The real question is why. My guess is the RS is the new kid on the block, and thanks to the popularity of the Gymkhana videos, it’s an easy scapegoat to use in sowing fear and paranoia amongst non-gearhead types.
But you gotta see the humor in all this. All the attention, including the negative press, will probably only end up boosting Ford’s sales. Because after all, everybody loves a bad boy, right?
Now if Ford could actually get the damn thing produced…